What I want to hear is a concrete plan… what do you mean by “careful explanation”? Linguists are concerned about the language of politicians | FRIDAY DIGITAL

What I want to hear is a concrete plan… what do you mean by “careful explanation”? Linguists are concerned about the language of politicians

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Speedy” and “tense” are also politician’s words.

Prime Minister Kishida often uses “careful explanation. But he repeats the same thing over and over again, and I often wonder if this is what he means by “careful explanation”? I often wonder. According to Professor Masahiro Ono, who specializes in historical studies of the Japanese language at the Graduate School of Meiji University,

A ‘polite explanation’ is one that is easy for the listener to understand, detailed, and thorough. Repeating the same thing over and over again and explaining it at length is not a ‘polite explanation.

That’s right, isn’t it? Everyone thinks so, but why is it not the original “careful explanation”?

“Because if you say something detailed or specific, you will be interrupted,” he said.

I would like to see a concrete recovery plan, not just a “speedy” one. Prime Minister Kishida exchanges words with disaster victims at a junior high school in the city of Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, which serves as an evacuation center (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

The politician said that he has a lot of words to say to avoid being interrupted.

For example, ‘speedy’ is a commonly used phrase. For example, “Speedily” is a common phrase used by politicians. Nothing is promised.

The same goes for ‘with a sense of urgency. Also, ‘I want to ________’ is often said, but this is also just a statement of hope, so even if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that you lied.”

The reason why they don’t say things clearly is because they are afraid that they will be blamed if they fail to do so.

Language is a means of communication, but the language of politicians is a treasure trove of “discommunication” that is either not communicative or refuses to communicate. As a linguist, I listen with great interest.

Apart from ambiguous expressions, Professor Ono also mentions “bluffing” as a form of discommunication.

For example, “Did you go to ____? is a typical example.

Passed down from generation to generation…Politicians’ words become “discommunication

According to Professor Ono, the way words are used changes over the course of 30 years or so.

For example, the word ‘kawaii’ (cute). For example, the word ‘kawaii’ was originally used to express the affection of a younger person.

Nowadays, however, it is also used to describe a superior person whose behavior or attitude is endearing. While retaining its original meaning, the usage of the word has changed. That is how language works.”

If so, has the disinformation of politicians also emerged out of the changing times?

I don’t think it is the times, but rather the way politicians have been trained to use this kind of language for generations.

They use high-impact words such as “as a ball of fire” and “countermeasures against the declining birthrate in another dimension,” but what do they actually mean by ……? We have to be a ball of fire and see what kind of things they do (PHOTO: AFRO)

How are we to listen to politicians who seem to refuse to communicate?

We must always listen attentively to see where their true intentions lie. And then watch their actions and make sure their words and deeds are consistent. I think that’s the only way.

If you give them specific numerical targets, and even if they fail to achieve them, if you ask them to be upfront about the reasons why, they won’t think you are lying. I would like politicians to learn proper communication.

Masahiro Ono is a professor at the School of Letters, Meiji University. He is vice president of the Japanese Language Association and president of the Society for the Study of Modern Japanese. He specializes in historical studies of the Japanese language (characters, vocabulary, and meaning). His publications include “Japanese Onomatopoeia Dictionary” (Shogakukan) and “Modern New Japanese Dictionary, 7th Edition” (Sanseido, chief editor).

  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa

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